Bourbon Feed

Dare To Be Different -- The Renegade

Sometimes the word renegade has a bad connotation, e.g. the wanted man in the classic Styx song.  Sometimes history ultimately vindicates renegades because they dared to be different.  The word comes from the Latin renegare, which means to deny or renounce.  The Renegade cocktail isn't nearly as old as the word.  Thanks to Sara Rosales for creating it in 2013 and posting it on the Kindred Cocktails site.

Renegade 21 ounce bourbon
1 ounce mezcal
.75 ounces yellow Chartreuse
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the confidence that it takes to be a you know what, and strain into a chilled glass.  Orange twist garnish optional.

Like a true renegade, the Renegade stands out because of its high powered mix of bourbon and mezcal (similar to tequila because it comes from the agave plant, but smokier because of how you make it).  The yellow Chartreuse (sweeter and less potent than the green version) keeps you from ending up like the man in the Styx tune (he's about to hang on the gallows). If you want to be a renegade with a Renegade, change up the bitters.  For example, you can use the orange and juniper bitters from Bittered Sling and the aromatic bitters from Embitterment.

Does this combination of ingredients look a little weird?  Yes it does.  Just remember the motto of the elite British Special Air Service -- who dares, wins. 

Renounce weak cocktails, dare to have a Renegade, and win.


BYOB -- Bottle Your Own Bourbon

BYOB 1Over the years I've consumed plenty of bourbon, but this month (which happens to be National Bourbon Heritage Month) was a first -- this time I got to bottle my own bourbon.  Falls Church Distillers, a new distillery located in Falls Church, Virginia, recently hosted a bourbon bottling party.  My wife (Ms. Cocktail Den) and I participated in all aspects of the bottling process from cleaning it, pouring bourbon into it, sealing it, and labeling it. It's a win win for everyone -- Falls Church Distillers gets some free labor, and you get a fun experience.

BYOB 2During the event we got to meet the father-son team behind the operation.  Michael (the father and CEO) and Lorenzo (the son and head distiller) Paluzzi are smart and engaging.  It's exciting to watch, and briefly be a small part of, a new business taking flight.  I use that term deliberately, as Michael is a U.S. Air Force veteran.

So what about the bourbon?  Forget about tasting notes (identifying flavors is not my forte) and let's cut to the chase -- it's smooth and will work well in cocktails.  It's a little over three years old, which it makes it relatively young by bourbon standards.  Some bourbon drinkers might find it a little too mellow, but that may be due to its youth. 

If you get a chance to BYOB, do it. 

 


Unsung Cocktail Heroes -- Bitters, Vermouth, and Liqueurs

Reading about unsung cocktail heroes is good, but why read when you can listen?  Eric Kozlik, the CEO of Modern Bar Cart, interviewed me for his podcast.  It was a great experience. Here's our conversation about bitters, vermouth, and liqueurs (it's episode #8).        

Modern Bar Cart podcast 2Eric has interviewed a lot of really interesting people about some great cocktail subjects, so I encourage you to listen to the other episodes. I've learned a lot by listening to them. You probably will, too.  The podcast is a wonderful example of connecting over cocktails.  Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den and I met Eric at the Tales of the Cocktail conference in New Orleans, and we reconnected at an event in Washington, D.C. earlier this year.

Our podcast episode (you can listen below) covers a lot of topics such as how James Bond disrupted the Martini, and what I would order if I could drink with my late grandfathers. We also discussed general cocktail categories such as amari (bitter liqueurs), and specific cocktails like the Manhattan, the Ward 8, and the Derby.

If you listen to the episode, keep this in mind -- I wasn't kidding.  I have walked alone through the yard of a maximum security federal prison.  No, I was not incarcerated. Want to the hear the story? Buy me a good cocktail.


Six Shot Fluidity -- The Revolver

RevolverLet's get one thing out of the way -- this excellent cocktail does not consist of six shots.  A drink that large would drop you like the business end of a real revolver.  The Revolver contains almost two shots of booze. Jon Santer created it in San Francisco, which is where the fictional Detective "Dirty Harry" Callahan used a .44 Magnum revolver to take down criminals.

2 ounces bourbon (preferably Bulleit -- get it?)
.5 ounces Kahlua or coffee liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters (I used Embitterment)

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the steady bang bang rhythm of firing a you know what, and strain into a chilled glass.

The Revolver is a little sweet, even if you use a slightly spicier bourbon like Bulleit.  Of course, don't make the mistake of conflating sweetness with weakness (that's a general rule in life in my opinion).  Some people think a drink that is sweet or a "girly" color has to be weak.  Those people are wrong.  

My musical preferences run the gamut, but rock n' roll generally is my favorite.  Keeping that in mind, I suggest the following as musical accompaniment to the Revolver --   specific tunes from Aerosmith (Janie's Got a Gun) or Lynyrd Skynyrd (Saturday Night Special), anything by .38 Special, or what is arguably Pat Benatar's most popular song (Hit Me With Your Best Shot).

Now that you're interested in a Revolver, I will channel Dirty Harry Callahan and ask one question -- do you feel lucky, punk?


A Smashing Success With Booze -- The Intense Smashed Julep

It's the time of year when many Americans briefly focus on horse racing.  And what cocktail is associated with the Kentucky Derby, the most famous race?  That's right -- the Mint Julep.  There's certainly nothing wrong with having a Mint Julep or two, but winners don't always stay with the pack. Break from the pack and try an Intense Smashed Julep.  

Intense Smashed Julep2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce Barrow's Intense ginger liqueur
1/4 lime cut into small pieces
4-5 mint leaves

Muddle the mint and lime at the bottom of the shaker, add ice and the other ingredients, shake like you're thundering down the homestretch, and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice.  Mint garnish optional.

There's no super simple syrup in the Intense Smashed Julep.  The Barrow's Intense (disclosure -- I am a very small investor) brings some sweetness and a noticeable ginger taste to the drink.  The Intense Smashed Julep is a mashup (smashup?) of the traditional Mint Julep, the Whiskey Smash, and the Intense Ginger Mint Julep.  If it isn't sweet enough for you, go ahead and add a little super simple syrup.       

Describing a cocktail as a smashed julep is sort of redundant.  Technically speaking a smash is a class of cocktails and a julep (the word derives from an old Persian word for rose water) is a subset of a smash.  As I understand it, a julep contains a spirit, sweetener, herb, and ice, and a smash contains all of those things and fruit.  In other words, all smashes are juleps, but not all juleps are smashes.  

But enough of this horsing around with cocktail semantics.  Have fun, get Intense, and get smashed. 


To E Or Not To E -- Spelling Whisky/Whiskey

Whisky or whiskey?  Which spelling is correct?  Both.  In honor of International Whisk(e)y Day, I figured I would clear up this issue.  Spelling the word is a matter of geography.  It generally corresponds to where one distills the spirit.  Thanks to Jeff Cioletti and his wonderful book The Year of Drinking Adventurously for this concise summary:

Whisk(e)yWhisky -- Scotland, Japan, Canada
Whiskey -- United States of America, Ireland

Let's move from spelling to etymology (a fancy term for a word's origin).  What does whisk(e)y mean? It comes from an Irish Gaelic or Scottish word that means "water of life."

Celebrate International Whisk(e)y Day by incorporating the spirit into a cocktail, whether it's a classic such as a Manhattan or Whiskey Sour, an underrated drink such as a Derby or Fireside Chat, or an original creation such as a Cancer Killer #1 or Whiskey Queen. Cheers!


The Whiskey Queen

Who is the Whiskey Queen?  My lovely wife, aka Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den, aka the Den's taste tester and social media consultant.  The tradition of kicking the new year off with a new original creation continues.  My wife is a Whiskey Woman, Bourbon Babe, and Scotch Siren (I definitely would see superhero films with those characters).  She is particularly fond of bourbon and Scotch, so the Whiskey Queen incorporates both of them.

Whiskey Queen1.5 ounces bourbon (Bulleit or Willett is fit for a queen)
.75 ounces blended Scotch (Monkey Shoulder is regal)
.75 ounces Benedictine DOM
2 dashes Bittered Sling peach bitters or other peach bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with a true queen's combination of badass power and majestic grace, and strain into a chilled martini or coupe glass.

Use your favorite bourbon, but stay away from ones that are more than 100 proof.  The Whiskey Queen should be strong, not lethal.  Similarly, using a blended Scotch instead of a single malt Scotch (especially one that is smoky) will reduce the odds of the cocktail going the way of Anne Boleyn. I used Benedictine because, like the peach bitters, it is a component of the Royalist, a great similarly themed cocktail.  Don't let the herbal sweetness fool you -- Benedictine's alcohol content makes it almost as strong as bourbon or Scotch.  You can (and should) get peach bitters online, and Bittered Slling makes the best product.

Whether your taste runs towards queens of the Elizabeth II variety or the Freddie Mercury variety (get it?), the Whiskey Queen is a tribute to the queen or king in your life.

Celebrate their Majesty!


Bombs Away -- The Brown Bomber

Brown bomber 1The drink is not explosive or dangerous, unless you have too many of them.  It is a tribute to Joe Louis, the late American heavyweight boxer.  Known as the Brown Bomber, Louis was the reigning champion for 140 consecutive months in the 1930s and 1940s, and he had 23 knockouts in 27 title fights.  Talk about staggering numbers (literally, if you were in the ring with him).  Jim Meehan at PDT in New York City created the Brown Bomber, and this is my variation on the recipe on the Whiskey Writes website.

2 ounces bourbon
.75 ounces dry vermouth
.5 ounces Averna or Campari

Brown Bomber 2Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the deliberate force of a boxer dismantling their opponent, and strain into a coupe glass.  Garnish with lemon twist.

Most versions of the Brown Bomber call for bourbon or rye, Lillet Blanc (a French aperitif), and Suze (a Swiss gentian root liqueur).  I substituted dry vermouth for the Lillet Blanc, and Averna or Campari for the Suze, because I prefer those liquors.  If you use Campari instead of Averna, the resulting cocktail will be more bitter.

The Brown Bomber isn't far removed from a Boulevardier in that both cocktails have a whiskey base, include vermouth, and contain an amaro such as Campari.   Similarly, the combination of whiskey and dry vermouth is reminiscent of a Scofflaw, so if you like one you'll probably like the other.

If you want a boxing relating drink that's sweeter but just as strong, try my pugilecello.  The Brown Bomber isn't sweet. But like its namesake, it is powerful and classy.


How About Them Apples -- The American Apple

Apples, cinnamon, and whiskey.  Any one of those flavors can evoke the autumn season.  Combine them into a drink, and you'll definitely fall (pun intended) for the result. You don't hear the phrase "how about them apples" much anymore (to my non-American readers -- it's an expression that means "what do you think about that?"), but as Matt Damon showed us in this scene from Good Will Hunting, sometimes it really hits the right note.

The American Apple is my variation on a Canadian whiskey based cocktail recipe that I saw on the barnonedrinks.com website.

American Apple2 ounces bourbon or rye (I like Bulleit and Willett)
.5 ounces apple brandy (Laird's is American)
Juice from 1/4 lemon
.5 ounces super simple syrup
2 dashes cinnamon

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with Will's swagger, and strain into a chilled glass. Apple slice garnish optional.

Apple brandy also plays a prominent role in cocktails such as Antoine's Smile and the Corpse Reviver #1.  It is similar to applejack, but they're not the same. I mention this because Laird's, which I used in the American Apple, makes both kinds of spirits.  The American Apple will taste a little different depending on whether you use bourbon or rye.  Bourbon is a liquid example of American exceptionalism, and rye is a liquid example of an American comeback kid.

So how about them American apples?


A Drink For A Stud -- The Man O' War

Man_o'_War_statueThat's stud as in a horse, not as in a man.  Man o' War was one of the greatest horses in American racing history. Before he was put out to stud, Man o' War captured the public's attention as he won 20 races .... out of 21.  That's one hell of a winning percentage. This month is National Bourbon Month, so this bourbon based cocktail is timely.

2 ounces bourbon (hello Willett or Bulleit)
1 ounce Cointreau
.5 ounces sweet vermouth (I like Carpano Antica)
Juice from 1/4 lemon

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the dominating power of Man o' War thundering down the stretch in one of his many victories in 1919 and 1920, and strain into a chilled glass.

Man o' WarIn honor of Man o' War I recommend you use bourbon from Kentucky, which was his home and is the epicenter of American horse racing.  Even though bourbon doesn't have to be from Kentucky (see this post about American Exceptionalism in alcohol), it would be appropriate in this instance.

There are other cocktails in the Den with ties to horse racing, e.g. the Mint Julep and the Derby.  The Derby is highly similar to the Man o' War, except the former uses lime juice and the latter uses lemon juice. Incidentally, the original Man o' War  recipe generically calls for orange curacao or triple sec.  Cointreau is a personal favorite.  Use whatever orange liqueur you prefer, just keep in mind that the resulting cocktail could be really sweet.

So whether you're a stud, you think you're a stud, or you admire a stud, have a Man o' War!